The first Executive MBA ETH HSG cohort successfully graduated

Saturday, October 28th, 2023, marked a historic milestone for continuing education in Switzerland, as both ETH Zurich and the University of St.Gallen celebrated the successful graduation of the pioneer cohort of their joint Executive MBA programme - the EMBA ETH HSG, known as emba X.

emba X1 Graduation
emba X pioneer cohort ©Valeriano Di Domenico

The first emba X cohort, comprised of 28 students from across all continents and different walks of life, started their pioneering journey in January 2022 and completed it successfully in July 2023. The unique cooperation between the two institutions and the first alumni’s achievements were commemorated during a special graduation ceremony on October 28th, 2023, where the pioneer cohort, together with their families and the programme’s Academic Directors Prof. Dr. Stefano Brusoni (ETH Zurich) and Prof. Dr. Karolin Frankenberger (University of St.Gallen) were joined by faculty and staff from both institutions. To mark this historic occasion, the ceremony included an address from Prof. Dr. Günther Dissertori, Rector of ETH Zurich as well as Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller, President of the University of St.Gallen.

“The graduation of the first emba X cohort marks an important, strategic milestone for the University of St.Gallen. In ETH Zurich we have found an excellent partner with shared values, and a strong commitment towards societal impact at the local and global scales”.
Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ehrenzeller
President of the University of St.Gallen


emba X1 Graduation
Sophie Lavaud shared lessons from mountaineering © Valeriano Di Domenico

The keynote speech was given by renowned mountaineer Sophie Lavaud, the first Swiss woman to climb the world’s 14 peaks over eight-thousand meters in altitude. In her address, she shared valuable lessons from mountaineering with the graduates and guests – some of which have also inspired the emba X “alpine journey”, the theme behind emba X that showcases the innovative nature and Swiss DNA of its curriculum. First, Lavaud pointed out that it is important to learn how to be a great leader, but even more important to learn how to be a good follower. Second, she emphasized the importance of knowing when to pivot. She gave an example of one expedition where she was about 150 meters away from the summit, but knew she had to turn around, otherwise she would not survive. In the emba X alpine journey, “returning to the valley” is a metaphor for a successful graduation after programme completion and it was a joy, not only for the graduates, but the entire community to see all the pieces of the expedition coming together during this memorable event.

emba X1 Graduation
Streichmusik Alder accompanied the ceremony musically © Valeriano Di Domenico

After the handover of the diplomas, Alexander Gerster, one of the proud emba X1 graduates, gave the commencement speech. In a well-rounded flashback, applying tools from their “Leadership for Impact” course, he managed to commemorate the graduates’ past 18 months together in a humorous and touching way. The students also used the opportunity to honour their favourite lecturers from the programme. The “Best Lecturer Awards” went to Prof. Dr. Amanda Shantz for the above-mentioned “Leadership for Impact” course as well as Claudio Feser and Dr. Daniella Laureiro Martinez who teach “Adaptive Leadership” together. The official ceremony was musically accompanied by Streichmusik Alder and followed by a celebration with live music from Acoustic 4 and an apéro riche.

The pioneer cohort as well as ETH Zurich and the University of St.Gallen can look back at a very successful cooperation:

“There is no easy way out of the tensions between business and society. Learning to value diversity, reflect on it, integrate it in our decisions: this is the core factor that makes our decisions more inclusive, more open, flexible and empathic. We have evidence that the programme is helping our participants take decisions in a more transparent, inclusive way. We have evidence our participants are using the acquired tools and skills in their personal and professional life.”
Prof. Dr. Stefano Brusoni, ETH Zurich
Academic Director EMBA ETH HSG (emba X)

emba X1 Graduation
Prof. Dr. Karolin Frankenberger and Prof. Dr. Stefano Brusoni © Valeriano Di Domenico

The emba X programme is the first cooperation of its genre between Swiss academic institutions, positioned as one of the most relevant continuing education experiences in the European and global landscape by its unique value proposition: the combination of a world-leading technology powerhouse with a globally renowned business school to create an executive programme in General Management that embodies social responsibility, and tackles the challenges of 21st century business-leaders. 

“Our goal is for students to end their emba X journey as socially responsible, well-rounded leaders, able to challenge the established ways of thinking, getting things done, and engaging others in constantly learning, unlearning and relearning. We are proud to have witnessed our pioneer cohort fully embodying this vision from the outset, and excited about their future accomplishments, and the future of our cooperation.”
Prof. Dr. Karolin Frankenberger, University of St.Gallen
Academic Director EMBA ETH HSG (emba X)

The third cohort of the Executive MBA – ETH Zurich and University of St.Gallen will start their studies in January 2024.

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